Shark Week, Aunt Flow, The Crimson Wave, The Red Sea, YOUR PERIOD! Or whatever you want to call it. A lot of us get it and if you’re anything like me, the week leading up to your period, as well as the week of your period is just awful, but not anymore! Obviously everyone’s periods are different in every way and form, but many women can agree that it’s not the most pleasant of experiences. I don’t claim to be a period expert or some sort of menstrual guru who can cure all evils surrounding that lovely time of the month, but I have a couple of insights that I want to share about how those of us who struggle around that time can still have confidence!
So this blog post is about to get real personal, if you couldn’t tell. I didn't get my period until I was 15. Yes that’s right, 15! I was the last of my friends, probably the last in my grade to get my period and boy was it traumatic. I had to come to grips with the fact that one, I was actually biologically female, and two, I was no longer a baby. I had a very difficult time coping with this news, especially because I had convinced myself that I was actually a man or that I was some sort of magical creature who would never get her period. Needless to say, I was less than pleased about growing up in this way. My parents will tell you that 15 year old Gigi was the worst version of Gigi to ever exist. I was a hot mess. I was extremely hormonal and I couldn’t control myself or my behavior. At least, that’s what my parents would tell you. In all honesty, I was so sad and upset and angry all the time and didn’t understand why. Now I know that the horribly hormonal human running rampant in 2007 was the result of all the changes my body was going through.
Fast forward to 2015, literally last month, when my hormones got the best of me and I flipped out at work. It was very unprofessional, but I couldn’t explain to my boss that I was PMS-ing and not in control of my emotions so I just apologized and tried not to let it happen again. This past month, I decided to mark off on my calendar when my period would be coming next so that I could prepare myself for a possible “freak out”. Lo and behold, actually being more self-aware and keeping track of my emotional state helped to prevent me from becoming upset over trivial things that normally wouldn’t bother me. So if you’re someone who becomes overly-emotional or irrationally angry leading up to your period, do a self-check-in. Stop and think, “Am I upset about this because it is rationally upsetting or am I upset because my period is coming? Or both?” I’m only speaking from personal experience; I know that not all women become irrational during shark week and I also know that many women, including myself, take offense to people (men) asking, “Are you PMSing?” when you’re legitimately angry about something. So just a tip, don’t ask anyone that question unless you have that type of relationship.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that those of you reading who consistently get your period, and perhaps those of you who don’t, already know a handful of tips about dealing with the physical pains that come with periods. Drinking tea, exercising, good old Advil, the list goes on, but how can we still be confident when the lines of our uteri are shedding and causing a ruckus? Realize that, unless you have some sort of medical or medicinal intervention, getting your period is normal! There’s a huge stigma and shame around having your period. We whisper, “Do you have a pad or tampon?” and go through extreme lengths to hide feminine products because so many of us are so ashamed of our bodies when it’s completely normal. In some other countries, girls and women are banned from public spaces while menstruating because it’s considered gross, impure, and shameful. And that makes me upset! As a society, we have to relinquish this idea we have that periods are “gross” and understand that periods are a regular part of life for the average woman. Women, it’s up to us to start this de-shaming process because men won’t do it for us.
So how can you be confident while surfing the crimson wave? Continue loving yourself and your body for ALL that it does and stop acting like getting your period is equivalent to having the black plague. Have a sense of self-awareness, stay active, and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Happy Menstruating!